Those concerned with the foreign policy inexperience of President Trump need a reminder of past administration failures; how we got where we are today.
TO BEGIN WITH – Nobody thought President Trump would be so immersed in foreign affairs because much of his campaign was focused on domestic issues. However, in his first year in office he has reestablished America’s leadership in the world.
His appearances in Poland and Brussels were widely acclaimed as successful. Despite his admonition of NATO countries, who weren’t paying their fair share, he signaled his full support of the organization. And at the personal invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron, he participated in France’s celebration of Bastille Day.
Likewise, his trips to Saudi Arabia and Asia were considered to be ideal opportunities for world leaders to meet and discuss matters of mutual interest with the president.
With that brief background, lets look at issues he is confronting now with the realization that they are matters left on his plate, unresolved by his predecessors.
LEFT WITH ISIS FORCES in the Middle East that President Obama insisted were “on the run,” President Trump untied the hands of our military and has almost entirely defeated them, scattering them from territories they once held.
NORTH KOREA – While many Americans have questioned President Trump’s tough talk on North Korea and its leader, Kim Jung Un, I remind you that his predecessors – Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama – are guilty of dumping the problem on him.
FORMER PRESIDENT CLINTON, in 1994, revealed that we were on the brink of war with North Korea. “Op Plan 5027,” the U.S. plan to defeat a North Korean attack, was developed as a demonstration that we were prepared to go the military route if needed. “I was determined to prevent North Korea from developing a nuclear arsenal even at the risk of war,“ Clinton said as he sent his Secretary of Defense William Perry to make certain the North Koreans knew we were serious. Perry even said we would not rule out a preemptive strike.
HOW TIMES HAVE CHANGED – A group of Democrat senators introduced a bill to prevent President Trump from initiating a preemptive strike.
BACK TO THE CLINTON ERA – An intervention by former President Jimmy Carter in North Korea brought about a diplomatic agreement. On October 21, 1994, Clinton told us about the “good deal” his administration had made with North Korea.
“North Korea will freeze and then dismantle its nuclear program. South Korea and our other allies will be better protected. The entire world will be safer as we slow the spread of nuclear weapons.
“South Korea, with support from Japan and other nations, will bear most of the cost of providing North Korea with fuel to make up for the nuclear energy it is losing, and they will pay for alternative power systems for North Korea that will allow them to produce electricity while making it much harder for them to produce nuclear weapons.
“The United States and international inspectors will carefully monitor North Korea to make sure it keeps its commitments. Only as it does so will North Korea fully join the community of nations.”
Just five days later, Clinton was forced to agree that if the regional neighbors reneged on their agreement to pay for alternative power systems, the United States would do so.
In the following years, relations continued to be strained. Inspectors were denied entry to sites, sanctions were tightened with fuel cut off, then reversed. In 2000, Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim Jung Il in an effort to thaw relations. Knowing that he was a basketball fan, she presented him with a basketball autographed by Michael Jordan. That’s an example of Democrat diplomacy.
UNDER PRESIDENT BUSH, diplomatic efforts continued. North Korea agreed to shut down its Youbyon nuclear facility in exchange for substantial fuel aid, all to clear a path to a denuclearized Korean peninsula. North Korea was removed from the list of state sponsors of terrorism. But the work on nuclear weapons continued.
IN AUGUST 2012, President Obama sent diplomats to North Korea hoping to minimize disruptions to the presidential election, as he was seeking his second term. Obama was always concerned with his reelection. Remember his “tell Vlad” open mic blunder?
HOWEVER, on December 11, 2012 North Korea successfully launched a missile. Just months later, North Korea declared that its rockets were ready to be fired at American bases in the Pacific. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said that North Korea posed “a real and clear danger.” Obama suspended food aid to North Korea in response.
ON APRIL 12, 2013, Secretary of State John Kerry declared that “North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power” and that a missile launch would be a “huge mistake.”
IN JANUARY 2015, from the brilliant foreign policy mind of President Obama came his prediction that over time the North Korean government would collapse. Six months later, North Korea said that the U.S. crossed the “red line” for putting Kim Jung Un on its list of sanctioned individuals, an act perceived as a declaration of war by the U.S.
DECADES OF FAILURE by the president’s predecessors have lead North Korea to stronger position that must be dealt with by President Trump, who along with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, realize that war with North Korea would be disastrous for both sides.
RECENT POLLS indicate that 70 percent of Americans view North Korea as a serious threat.
ISRAEL AND PEACE TALKS – President Trump’s decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem has been met with doom and gloom for the prospect of peace talks with the Palestinian Authority. However, we should remember that his predecessors, who said they were going to move the embassy and didn’t, failed to bring about settlement.
FUNDING THE PALASTINIAN AUTHORITY – President Trump has suggested that he may cut funding to the Palestinians. I thought you should know that the United States has “invested” $400 million a year in Palestinians since the Authority was created in the Oslo Accords in 1993. The funding primarily funds USAID programs, but $36 million goes directly to the Authority’s security forces to supposedly support work in coordination with Israel to stop terror attacks. There continues to be concern that the Authority pays salaries to convicted terrorists currently in Israeli jails.
IN ADDITION, the U.S. has been the largest contributor to the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees; contributing $369 a year to support some five million people in the region.
MEANWHILE, the Palestinian Authority leadership refuses to continue peace talks just because of our decision to move our embassy to Jerusalem. Stay tuned.
PAKISTAN – While President Obama repeatedly boasted that Osama bin Laden was dead, his relationship with Pakistan was so weak that the U.S. couldn’t let its leaders know of our plan to make an assault on the bin Laden compound there.
Later, he was unable to secure the release of Dr. Shakil Afridi, who was sentenced to 33 years in a Pakistani prison, charged with treason for aid the CIA in locating bin Laden. The Obama administration’s failure to covertly extract Afridi and his family from Pakistan prior to the assault on the bin Laden compound is never discussed.
The U.S. has reportedly withheld $1 million in aid to Pakistan for each year of Afridi’s sentence, but with little concern by Pakistan. While President Trump indicated during his campaign that he would move for Afridi’s release, there have been no reports of action.
IRAN – Again, President Trump has been left with a deal struck by President Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry, a deal that was designed to cement Obama’s legacy as the leader that stopped Iran’s nuclear weapon development. We all know that hasn’t happened.
“From the first day in office, President Obama has made it clear that he will never accept a nuclear-armed Iran. And make no mistake: President Obama is committed to staying with a policy of stopping the bomb.
“Under the agreement, Iran’s leaders are permanently barred from pursuing a nuclear weapon and there are permanent restraints and access provisions and inspection provisions to guarantee that.”
– John Kerry, July 28, 2015
On September 12, 2016, Obama sent pallets of cash – $1.7 billion in non-U.S. currencies – to Iran to settle arbitration between the two countries.
President Trump has spoken of his disapproval of the Iran deal and must soon decide on a decertification.
THERE IS A SAYING that “the best predictor of the future behavior is past behavior.” Don’t expect President Trump to follow that axiom with his foreign policy.